Booth Library To Host Young Adult Novelist Kristin Ward For Local Author Event
Kristin Ward waited three decades to write and publish her first book.
Once she did, she not only felt a sense of accomplishment but also started picking up awards for her work. Between that and the very supportive independent publishing community she has immersed herself in, the Newtown resident, wife, mother of three boys, and educator also found a reason to continue writing.
C.H. Booth Library will host the novelist during the Local Author Talk program planned for Wednesday, February 24, at 7 pm. She plans to offer a reading of her latest young adult fantasy novel, Rise of Gaia, a Q&A about her writing history and path to publishing, and a reading from her upcoming fantasy series, The Daughter of Erabel. One participant will also win a signed copy of Rise of Gaia.
Ward’s first novel was After the Green Withered, released in 2018. The book received the 2018 Best Indie Book Award in Young Adult Fiction, an international literary honor, according to its website, “recognizing outstanding achievement by independent authors.” Last year, the title was awarded the 2020 Connecticut Author Project in the Young Adult category.
Its sequel, Burden of Truth, was also released in 2018. It was a 2019 TopShelf Indie Book Award finalist.
Ward, 47, is also the author of Legacy of Gold: A Pandemic Novella.
The impetus for her first environmental novel came a few years before its publication. While doing research for a graduate course in environmental education, Ward said “a little idea popped into my head.”
She started wondering about water, “this element on Earth that is needed by all living things, and what would happen if instead of these localized droughts, we had an international drought situation,” she said February 8, speaking with The Newtown Bee.
After completing the course, she said, the idea was still there, but she found herself still balancing life and its different avenues with her wish to be a published writer. In late 2017, however, she read an article that changed all that.
“An article came out that December,” she said, “about Cape Town and their water crisis. At that time, they had predicted that Cape Town would run out of water by April 2018, and that was alarming. It read like my prologue.”
It did indeed. In the early pages that began After the Green Withered, she writes about refineries that continue to process crude oil, US citizens “though saddened by the images” who are immune to images of starving children on their television screen, and even “fingers of blame, rather than solutions to the root cause, become the norm.”
Her words sound prophetic. Ward agreed this week with that description.
“Very much,” she said. “I’ve heard from so many readers who say that my dystopian landscape is not so far-fetched. We are, in my mind, living the prologue right now. The intent is meant to be a wake-up call. We need to have awareness. We can’t keep saying that’s a problem in another state, or another country.”
That was when Ward really began to focus on her first book.
“I have a message that I want readers to hear, and I have to get it out there because it’s relevant, it’s timely,” she said, Monday afternoon.
In After the Green Withered, the world battles over water rights. In Rise of Gaia (pronounced “GUY-ah”), the world itself —Mother Earth — is a sentient being, and she has had enough of the greed and violence of Man.
It is Mother Earth who fights back, said Ward, “against mankind, because she is just so filled with wrath.”
Ward’s books are not meant to be depressing, she said.
“They’re meant to raise awareness, to be the cause for change.” She has heard from readers, she said, who have made small changes in their lives after reading one of her novels.
“The changes are actionable. Little things add up,” she said. “You think about a river, it starts with one drop. It’s the same with any movement.”
An Exciting Time
Once After the Green Withered was written, it was time for Ward to find a publisher. She decided to go the indie route.
“There are so many resources available,” Ward said, adding that the publishing industry “has changed vastly recently, especially the indie publishing community.
“We don’t have to go through the big five any more,” she said, a reference to powerhouse publishers Penguin/Random House, Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, and Macmillan. There are pros and cons to that, she is quick to admit, but she had also been very happy with her decision.
Ward finds encouragement from fellow independently published writers, and wants to share that with her audience on February 24.
“This is something I toyed with for 30 years before actually publishing something,” she said this week. “Then I went and published, and I won awards, which made me realize I didn’t have to take the traditional route. I know that there are people who felt like me, that this is just a dream, that it’s unattainable. But it isn’t.
“It’s a really exciting time in the book industry,” she continued. “The indie community is becoming more prevalent. Who knows where it’s going to lead, but it’s very exciting to be part of it.”
She is on multiple social media platforms, but favors Twitter. Ward finds that platform allows “more of a conversation” among its users.
“The writing community on Twitter is just massive,” she added. “Not only do you have an incredibly varied and supportive indie author community, but you have editors and publishers as well. It’s a great conduit to have a true exchange with someone.”
Ward also uses Instagram and Facebook and hosts her own website. She keeps returning to Twitter, however.
“I really like the exchange of Twitter, that you can have an actual conversation with some humorous and supportive people,” she said.
Zoom is another platform she, like many others during the past year, is getting used to. An educator, she has used the program for classroom presentations.
The program hosted by Booth Library will be her first author appearance. Not having in-person events for a year has been “off-putting” for authors and readers, she said.
“People are worried about other things, and haven’t been in bookstores,” she said. Many have also not returned to local libraries.
“Usually if people already know you, they end up on Zoom, but you still can’t really physically interact with an author, which is a challenge,” she said. Ward is hoping that being hosted by her hometown library will help with recognition.
“The upcoming library talk, I think, will be exciting because I’m hoping to have some local people who see me around town and know that I’m a tangible person,” she said.
At the same time, she acknowledges one of the biggest benefits of livestreamed programs.
“You have a really extensive reach,” she said. “With Zoom, you can reach people globally. That’s huge.”
Ward has reached out, she said, ahead of this month’s program, and has received feedback from people who are not local.
“And that’s a benefit,” she said, “to get to people no matter their time zone. They have the ability to be home, comfortable, and safe.”
Even with the rollout of various coronavirus vaccines, Ward realized that “things aren’t going to change for a while. So this is the nudge I need to get in front of people and find alternative ways to connect with readers.”
Registration is required by noon Thursday, February 24, to receive the Zoom link for that evening’s Local Author Talk. Visit chboothlibrary.org and click Events Calendar.
To learn more about Ward or to follow her on social media, visit kristinwardauthor.com or find her on Twitter (@KWardAuthor), Instagram (kristin_ward_author), or Facebook (Kristin Ward, Author).